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1. What is discrimination in public spaces under the NYC Human Rights Law?
The NYC Human Rights Law prohibits discrimination in Public Accommodations on the basis of these protected categories:
Age, Race, Color, Religion/Creed, National Origin, Gender, Pregnancy, Gender Identity and Gender Expression, Disability, Sexual Orientation, Marital or Partnership Status, and Immigration or Citizenship Status.
This protection includes discrimination because of an individual’s actual status as well as what people think or perceive an individual’s status to be. Individuals are also protected based on their association with other individuals who fall into a protected category.
2. What is a Public Accommodation? Who can I file a claim against if I am discriminated against in a public space?
Anyone who provides goods and services to the general public is considered a public accommodation and is subject to the NYC Human Rights Law.
The NYC Human Rights Law prohibits discrimination by retail stores, rental establishments and service establishments as well as educational institutions, recreational facilities, and service centers. This can include gyms, parks, restaurants, and schools.
3. Are Public Accommodations required to provide access to persons with disabilities?
Many people with disabilities may need a reasonable accommodation to safely and independently enter or use a public accommodation.
The NYC Human Rights Law requires that providers make reasonable efforts to grant access and services to all customers.
Reasonable accommodations may require a structural change, such as constructing a ramp or providing accessible parking spaces, or it may require a change in policy, such as permitting service animals to accompany a disabled person into a restaurant.
4. Are stores covered by the NYC Human Rights Law?
It is against the NYC Human Rights Law to be denied access to a store or refused services based on your membership in a protected category under the NYC Human Rights Law.
A store may reserve the right to inspect your bags, check your bags at the door, or closely observe your conduct in the store in an effort to prevent shoplifting; however, such actions may not be based on a protected category, e.g., race.
5. I am deaf and could not obtain medical services at a hospital because they did not have interpreters, is this a violation of the NYC Human Rights Law?
Yes. Hospitals are public accommodations and must accommodate patrons with disabilities.
6. I am a transgender woman and I was not allowed to use the women’s restroom at a gym, is this a violation of the NYC Human Rights Law?
Yes, public accommodations must allow you to use the facility that corresponds to your gender identity.
7. Where can I get more information about my rights as a transgender person?
8. Are taxi drivers covered by the NYC Human Rights Law?
Yes, a taxi driver cannot refuse to pick you up or discriminate against you based on any of the protected categories under the NYC Human Rights Law. Note the cab’s medallion number, the driver’s name, license number, the date, location, and time. Ask for a receipt since it could support your complaint.
9. If my case is successful, what remedies or damages can the Commission order?
The Commissioner can order a respondent to cease and desist from engaging in the unlawful conduct; build or provide a reasonable accommodation; reimburse the complainant for out-of-pocket costs; renew membership; and pay for emotional distress damages, among other remedies. The Commissioner may also assess civil penalties (paid to the City of New York) of up to $125,000 for violations, and up to $250,000 for violations that are the result of willful, wanton or malicious conduct, as well as require respondents to take other actions such as training for managers and employees.
Get information about outcomes in discrimination cases: